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Build Partnerships

Build Partnerships Picture of Third Quarantine Cemetery, North Head Sanctuary, 2019 with title "Build Partnerships" in the background.

Build Partnerships

The important role of stakeholders and partners continued in 2019-20 with the community expressing a sustained desire to contribute to and support the Harbour Trust. The Independent Review of the Harbour Trust, which was facilitated by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, benefited from significant community input. Throughout the period, the Harbour Trust continued to reach out to and partner with various government agency staff, councils, local members, industry organisations and other key stakeholders.

The Harbour Trust continued to work with its three advisory groups: the General Community Advisory Committee (CAC), Sub Base Platypus Community Advisory Committee, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group. A total of eight statutory meetings and two out of session meetings were held with the Community Advisory Committees and two meetings were held with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group. A full recruitment of the Sub Base Platypus Community Advisory Committee was undertaken in 2019-20 with a new committee of nine members joining the two ex-officio positions. See Appendix 2, for a full list of Advisory Group members.

In 2019-20, the Harbour Trust conducted a survey of its advisory groups to identify areas requiring improvement so as to increase the effectiveness of the three committees as advisory bodies. This body of work will expand as a result of the recommendations of the Independent Review Report and continue throughout 2020-21.


In 2019-20, 15 Harbour Trust Volunteers reached their 10-year service milestone, receiving a commemorative certificate and badge for their contribution. The Volunteer Program continues to enjoy long term tenure from volunteers. In addition, 20 new volunteers joined the program in administration, gardening, restoration and visitor services roles. The volunteer team contributed more than 22,000 hours across all roles during 2019-20.

Volunteers continue to contribute beyond their regular roles, including sitting on both the Community Advisory Committee and the Work Health and Safety Committee, as well as providing feedback and input to the Harbour Trust Independent Review.

The Harbour Trust has 17 volunteer roles that include both public facing and behind the scenes activities, allowing the Harbour Trust to enhance the natural and built environment, welcome visitors, convey the history of our sites and support staff. Major volunteer projects included the ongoing restoration of No. 2 Steam Crane at Cockatoo Island and restoration of the Plotting Room at North Head Sanctuary, improvements to administration processes, and the ongoing collection and transcription of oral history interviews.

As a result of COVID-19 the Volunteer Program was suspended in March 2020. Whilst many of the roles have been impacted, new opportunities for volunteer involvement were created, particularly in the areas of community engagement and programming. Volunteers also supported the digitisation of the Trust Talks program, previously conducted at Harbour Trust sites, to an online program — DigiTalks, and developed the content for the DigiTales online story library.

In 2019, the Harbour Trust commenced using Volgistics, a web-based volunteer records management program. Over the past year Volgistics has been customised to suit the needs of the Harbour Trust, all active volunteer records have been transferred to the system, and volunteers can now report the number of hours they volunteered via our online sign-in.

Local partnerships

Important partnerships continued in 2019-20 with key organisations working with the Harbour Trust to deliver shared ambitions.

Bondi to Manly Walk

Launched November 2018, the Bondi to Manly Walk is an 80 Km multi-day walk and major tourist attractor linking two of Australia’s most famous beaches. The walk passes through four Harbour Trust sites: Macquarie Lightstation, Vaucluse; Sub Base Platypus, North Sydney; Headland Park, Mosman; and North Head Sanctuary, Manly. The walk is developed and marketed by the Bondi to Manly Walk Supporters — a partnership of the six councils along the walk and seven NSW state agencies (Place Management NSW, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services, Transport for NSW, Port Authority of NSW, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney Opera House and Taronga Zoo) as well as the Harbour Trust.

Over the course of the reporting period, the Harbour Trust was proactively involved in the project and part of the steering committee.

The Harbour Trust installed wayfinding signage on Harbour Trust sites along the walk and supported the marketing and promotions of the walk.

North Head Sanctuary

A focus on the local environment at North Head Sanctuary continued to be supported through partnerships with the North Head Sanctuary Foundation and Australian Wildlife Conservancy. North Head Sanctuary volunteers maintained an onsite nursery, restored bushland, and educated visitors about North Head’s unique ecology.

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy provided scientific services at North Head Sanctuary for the Harbour Trust. Services included monitoring the endangered population of Long-nosed Bandicoots as well as other species present at the site.

The Harbour Trust’s partnership with Soldier On helped provide services that support returned service men and women and their families. Soldier On developed and implemented new activities such as a men’s social connection weekend program as well as numerous sporting activities such as mountain biking workshops around the headland and sailing from Manly Harbour. They also launched a successful veterans’ volunteering program in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Sydney which was based at North Head. Soldier On directly hosted more than 97 veterans and supporters at North Head in 2019-20. Through their involvement in activities across broader Sydney, Soldier On has supported approximately 500 veterans.

At North Fort, the Royal Australian Artillery Historical Company continued to maintain Australia’s Memorial Walk with 71 new pavers sold through the donation program.

Headland Park

Artistic and community initiatives supported by the Harbour Trust included: the Sydney Institute of Marine Science Open Day where the public could explore facilities and meet researchers; art exhibitions featuring Headland Park community artists; and support for the HMAS Penguin Gate to Gate Fun Run.

Sub Base Platypus

Three partnerships helped activate Sub Base Platypus in 2019-20 and were positively received by the local community. The partnership with 33 Events enabled the pop-up café Torpedoes, Studio A delivered a pop-up art exhibition in the Retort House and Sydney Living Museums sold out tours of Sub Base Platypus as part of the Sydney Open event.

Cockatoo Island

The long-standing partnership with the Biennale of Sydney continued with the 2020 art exhibition taking over much of Cockatoo Island from March. Whilst the exhibition had to be temporarily suspended due to the impacts of COVID-19, an extension of the partnership agreement was executed post the COVID-19 lockdown.

In addition, a new multi-year partnership was established with the Sydney Opera House to support the Dance Rites Indigenous dance competition, allowing both organisations to work more closely together.